Part-Time Indian Survives Wisconsin Challenge

May 2, 2017
By

absolutelytrueSherman Alexie’s bestselling YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has survived a committee review after a challenge at the Sauk Prairie High School in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin.

The book is part of the 9th grade curriculum in the school, but a formal complaint was filed during the second semester of the school year. Per school policy 9130, school superintendent Cliff Thompson assembled a review committee that consistent of a board member, faculty, and other members of the community. The district also appears to have followed the section of 9130 that dictates that “The material in question may not be withdrawn from use pending the committee’s recommendation to the District Administrator.”

The review committee voted 8-5 in favor of keeping the book in the curriculum. Some parents in the district expressed concerns that the review process was unfair because more faculty than parents were included on the committee. 

The use of Part-Time Indian was questioned during an April 24 school board meeting for what one parent called “shocking words of profanity, sexual innuendo and violence.” Another parent quoted out-of-context passages during the meeting as evidence of the novels unsuitability for classrooms. Another parent argued that she’s not an advocate of banning books, “but I cannot believe in the history of the written word that there is not a more appropriate, more suitable, more acceptable book than this one.”

CBLDF has joined several defenses of Sherman Alexie’s award-winning novel over the years. It has appeared on ALA’s annual list of the most challenged books on several occasions since its 2007 publication despite accolades from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. It won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and several other award. It has been included in school curricula around the country since publication.

Complainants may choose to appeal the committee decision, which then refers the challenge to the school board. Based on reporting, it appears that a school board vote is in the works. Hopefully, they will stand by the committee decision.

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